Why to trim your dog’s nails frequently?

I don’t know who dreads trimming your pets nails more, you or your pet.  Many of us let our dogs go as long as possible without trimming their nails.  We have many excuses for this including no time, my dog doesn’t like having his nails trimmed, to fear of cutting the nails to short and inflicting pain.

However, the reality is a dog needs to have their nails trimmed on a frequent basis to avoid developing later health issues.  Letting your dog’s nails get over-grown is comparable to you walking on your tip toes all the time.  Try this, walk only on the tips of your toes for 1-2 hours.  Notice how sore your feet and ankles get.  It is the same for our dogs.  Constant over-grown nails can actually attribute to arthritis when your dog is older.

There are things you can do to make nail clipping more enjoyable for you and your dog.  Positive reinforcement with training treats can go along way.  Clip a nail, give a treat, clip another nail, give another treat.  Clip 2 or 3 nails, give a treat.  This method always keeps them guessing as to when to expect the next treat.

If your dog is a large breed or has those dreaded thick, black nails where it is difficult to detect the quick, you may wish to consider a rotary style clipper.  Definitely only use a rotary clipper designed for trimming your pet’s nails.  These clippers will have a guard to prevent your pet’s hair from getting wrapped around the rotary head.

If your concerned about clipping the nails to short.  You may want to consider a trimmer with a quick sensor, such as the QuickFinder.  The QuickFinder senses the blood flow in the quick and has a light system letting you know when it’s safe to cut.

If you are still not comfortable with clipping your dog’s nails, it may be best to have a groomer do this for you.  Many grooming shops don’t even require an appointment for this service.

If your dog’s nails have been over-grown for awhile, the quick may be longer and you may not be able to have their nails clipped as short as necessary to start with.  However, continually keeping your dog’s nails trimmed will help the quick recede.  Over time, your dog will be able to have nice, short, healthy nails.

Dry, Canned, or Raw Pet Food – Which is Right?

Choosing the best pet food for you and your pet can be a daunting task.  With so many options available and the word “natural” being used by nearly every pet food manufacturer, how do you know which foods are good foods?

Lets first look at the different types of foods available.  Dry food (kibble) is definitely the most popular and well known form of pet food.  It’s easy to purchase and store, has a long shelf life, and is usually the least expensive to feed.

Dry food is the most processed. To make it shelf stable, dry food is cooked at a higher temperature and the moisture is removed.  This over-processing removes many of the natural vitamins and minerals in the food.  This is why when viewing the ingredient panel, you’ll notice many synthetic supplements are listed.  Manufacturers are trying to put back in what was taken out of the food during the processing.

Raw feeding may be a relatively new concept for you as it’s popularity seems to vary by region.  There are different forms of raw food.  Most well known is frozen raw food, which is the least processed.  By not over processing the food, more of the natural vitamins and minerals are retained, resulting in less synthetic supplements needing to be added back in.

There is also freeze dried or dehydrated raw food.  This form of raw has been processed to have the moisture removed, resulting in a more shelf stable and easily transportable product.  The consumer simply mixes the product with water and serves it to their pet.

Raw feeding can be costly depending on the size of your pet.  Raw feeding also may not be appropriate if your pet has immune deficiencies or severe digestive disorders.  You should consult with your vet prior to changing a diet for any animal with health issues.

Canned food is typically used for supplemental feeding or as a topper to entice your pet to eat something else.   Canned food is typically processed at a high temperature to make it shelf stable.  Again, the label generally consists of numerous synthetic supplements that have been added back to the product to ensure a balanced diet for your pet.

Finding the right food can be a process of trial and error.  When giving a new food, transition slowly to avoid digestive upset.  Observe your pet and look for signs that it may not be agreeing with them.  If your pet has a chronic itch, goopy eyes, foul smelling ears, yeasty skin, sever gas, or frequent diarrhea, the food is not working.  You may want to keep a food journal to track which foods you have given and what the results were of that food.

There is no one food fits all.  Just like people, what works for you may not work for me.  Each animal is an individual with unique needs.  You may have several dogs or cats and need to feed multiple types of foods to accommodate their individual needs.  Yes, this can be an inconvenience, however it may be a necessity.

It may be a good idea to speak with a pet nutrition expert.  Smaller independent pet stores may be a good resource.  They generally have well trained staff, are more in touch with their customers experiences, and may be able to give better guidance on choosing the best food for your pet.

Chicken Meal and Lamb Meal – What are these?

While assisting customers with choosing the best food for their pet, we often uncover a common misconception about what “meal” really is.  Most commonly people assume it is a by-product comparable to feathers and beaks however, typically this is not true.

To help clear up the confusion, we thought it would be a great topic for our first blog post on blog.gourmetdoggiediner.com.

So, we’re doing what every good pet parent should do and we’re reading the ingredient panel on the food or treat we are about to purchase.  A familiar ingredient is listed “chicken meal”, “lamb meal”, or even “fish meal.  But, what do they mean?

Chicken Meal is actually a dried combination of flesh and skin.  It is completely digestible and contains no by-products (feathers, heads, feet, etc.).  Lamb Meal is simply lamb meat with most of the moisture and fat removed.

To put it in laymen terms, chicken meal and lamb meal are nutrient dense, high quality sources of meat protein that have had the excess moisture removed.  This process makes it suitable for use in dry food.

To be clear, when reading the ingredient panel, make sure the “meal” source is a named source like chicken, lamb, or fish.  Do not purchase a product which only lists “meat meal” as the protein source.